How over 5,000 ‘cancer conversations’ have helped residents in Hastings and Bexhill

65 volunteers held over 5,000 ‘cancer conversations’ between them with their fellow residents in Hastings and Bexhill, to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer, improve early diagnosis and help to save lives.

The conversations took place through the Hastings and Rother Community Cancer Awareness Project, which was commissioned by Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as part of the Healthy Hastings and Rother Programme. The project was carried out by Unique Improvements – a not-for-profit organisation.

The project enlisted local volunteers who were trained up to offer brief advice conversations to raise cancer awareness and encourage screening for breast, bowel and cervical cancer. Volunteers then used their local knowledge to come up with creative ways to engage with their communities on this important issue.

Awareness raising activities took place across Hastings and Bexhill and surrounding areas, at community venues, in workplaces and at community events, like markets, fun days, church fetes and football matches. Volunteers also organised talks, breakfast events, a night time lantern parade and many more activities, to involve local communities and businesses in spreading the message, and to sign-post people to local health services.

Many volunteers took part because they or someone close to them had been affected by cancer. One such volunteer said: ‘‘I really enjoy spreading the word and will take many new skills and experiences with me in future roles. I’ve gained lots of confidence about being able to raise awareness about the signs of cancer and how to start conversations with people. My time with the project has been amazing and it won’t leave me.’’

People taking part also valued the opportunity to make new friends and connect to others, and the project offered an opportunity for them to improve their own knowledge of cancer, and share this knowledge with family and friends.

For residents, the project has successfully improved people’s awareness of cancer, and increased their willingness to seek further advice and/or take up the invite to their cancer screenings, both of which are important for early diagnosis. Organisations that worked with the project now have more knowledge around early detection and screening approaches as a result.

Those involved during the project are continuing to engage with their communities to raise awareness, and important findings from the project will help guide future work.

Find out more about cancer symptoms and cancer screening

To find out about the keys signs and symptoms of cancer, please visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms.

If you’d like to find out more about the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, please visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/screening.

You can also talk to your GP about any concerns you may have about cancer and accessing the screening programmes.

Support to live a healthier lifestyle

Adopting a healthier lifestyle can have a very positive impact on everyone’s life. Making lifestyle changes, like stopping smoking, increasing your physical activity, achieving a healthier weight and reducing your alcohol intake, can reduce your risk of developing a range of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. If you’re living with a long term condition, making these changes can help reduce the impact of your condition and improve your quality of life.

One You East Sussex offers a one-stop shop service with tailored packages of support which help you to address all areas of your lifestyle within a single service, in a way that works for you.

For more information on the service and details on how you can get started go to www.oneyoueastsussex.org.uk or call 01323 404600